After the first article I wrote 5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Competitive Duck Caller I received some inquiries for more information about calling contests. The following is a break down of some of the different types an styles of contests that are typically held. I figured I would expand on something that I participate in and something that has made me a much better duck call operator and hunter over all. I know there is an awkward stigma associated with competitive callers in that they may be great callers on stage but they lack knowledge in the field. I am here to tell you that is 100% not true. Competitive callers are folks that have made it a point to sharpen their skills and get full use out one of the most valuable tools in a waterfowl hunters tool box.
In the realm of competitive calling you may hear terminology like , sanctioned, open , regional, state, two-man , main street, meat and live. This article will touch on these terms in hopes to provide you with enough knowledge to step outside of your comfort zone and compete in your first contest.
There are really only two types of contests, and out of those two they break down into different subcategories or styles of calling. The two main types are: sanctioned and open. To be eligible to compete in the World Duck Calling Championship you must win a sanctioned contest. There are two types of sanctioned contest. You have a state championship contest, where only residents of that particular state are eligible to compete, and you have a regional sanctioned contest, where it is open to anyone and the contest must have a minimum of 10 contestant’s and three different states represented. These contests (both state and regional) that are recognized by The World Championship Duck Calling Contest as qualifiers are a “main street” style of contests. The contest will consist of three rounds where each competitor is allowed to blow a 90 second routine. To win you must make it through all three rounds. In the event of a tie there is a call off. Main street calling is typically not indicative of the style of calling you would use while hunting. The hail calls are usually very high pitch ringing type calls, the feed calls are usually very fast pace, and the hens or ducks in the middle usually have a much more powerful and aggressive tone to them. While to object of the routine is to simulate calling at a flock of birds, the contest is judged based on the callers ability to flow, be clean (no mistakes), and the callers ability to have a tremendous amount of control while operating the call from the very top end to the very bottom end of the sound spectrum. To most who hear this for the first time its somewhat puzzling as it really does not sound like hunting or your typical style of duck calling, and most competitors would never dream of operating a call in this manner while hunting. If you win a “sanctioned contest” you are then qualified to compete in the World Championship Contest. Should you not be able to go for any reason the second place contestant will be allowed to go in your place. If you win and then do not show up or do not let the World Championship Committee know you can’t come, you are suspended from the World Championship and those sanctioned events for 2 years.
So you may be asking well…. what if I want to compete but have no desire to go to the World Championship? Well that’s were the open contests come in. The open contest is exactly what it says they are open to any and all competitors qualified or not and carry no obligation to go to the world championship . Sometimes the open contest are more competitive because they usually pay out more, and have a much more diverse level of contestants competing in them. You see, if you win a “sanctioned event” you cannot compete in another “sanctioned event” until after that years World Championship. So the open contest will draw competitors who have already qualified and need the stage time and practice, as well as those who do not want to or cannot compete in the World Championship.
Open contest do not have to be a “main street” style of calling either. An open contest can be main street, meat calling, or even live calling. Meat calling also known as a hunting style calling is a routine usually lasting 90 seconds, that is indicative of how you would call while you are hunting. Just like in main street calling the routine tells a story and has to have flow but is more about a real life scenario and less about call control. There are several variations of these contest while 90% of them are 90 second routines and 3 round contests I have seen them done with two rounds or requiring 60 second routines. Callers are judged on their ability to sound like ducks but also demonstrate that they can be both aggressive when needed and handle the close in finesse work as well when hunting. The routine structure is typically a lot looser and is subject to the callers interpretation more so than the judges. A lot of times at calling events you will see a combination of both sanctioned and open contests.
The last style of “open” contest is the live style of calling. This routine is 60 seconds long follows no real structure and the contestant is judged on their ability to sound like live ducks. The judges are usually instructed to envision a refuge of ducks in their natural habitat , acting and communicating under no duress . While main street calling is impressive, the live style of calling gives the caller the ability to be creative and attempt to imitate sounds that are very natural and “ducky” and can sometimes really demonstrate the versatility of a caller.
Branching outside of these types of calling you will see calling events host a two-man or team calling event. Typically this is a meat style calling contest usually made up of three rounds with 90 second routines, but again there are variations . The two callers are to imitate two hunters working a flock of ducks. Again they are judged based on the parameters to which we would operate a call in a hunting scenario. As of 2016 there is now a World Two Man Calling Championship held at Rogers Sporting Goods and also a World Two Man Live Duck Calling Contest held in coordination with the World Goose Calling Championship held in Easton Maryland.
I am hoping that this has given you an insight into competitive duck calling. Like I have said before , every competitor has had their first contest we all had to start somewhere. I would encourage everyone to learn more about it and give it a try. Organizers and venues have gone out of their way to make sure that all styles are represented. Below are some links to more information that may help you along your way and as always we are here to answer and expand on any questions you may have. Thanks again for reading. If you enjoyed this and would like to receive more information and updates from Mudflat Creative visit our website at http://www.mudflatcreative.com/, and subscribe to our news letter .